At next year's Def Con hacker conference, ethical hackers will be invited to crack the security on an orbiting US Defense Department satellite, reports an article in Wired.
This follows on from this year's conference when the US Air Force (USAF) turned up with an F-15 fighter-jet data system which was dismantled by security researchers exposing a number of serious vulnerabilities along the way.
Senior personnel in the Air Force were so pleased with the results that they decided to go one better next year and bring in a satellite. This reflects a change in how the military is dealing with cybersecurity challenges.
“We have to get over our fear of embracing external experts to help us be secure. We are still carrying cybersecurity procedures from the 1990s,” said Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology, and logistics.
“We have a very closed model. We presume that if we build things behind closed doors and no one touches them, they’ll be secure. That might be true to some degree in an analog world. But in the increasingly digital world, everything has software in it.”
At the 2020 conference hackers will be tasked with tackling the satellite and its control systems. Prior to the event, there will be a testing phase which will see the USAF advertise for hackers and then vet them for the challenge.
This will be followed by a series of trials, and the best performers will be invited to Def Con in Las Vegas to try and compromise a working satellite.